Tip of the Week
Insurance Against Mediocrity
What it is? A slightly ambiguous statement
Important: Validates learning and human
connections. Acknowledging a mistake helps you learn what not to do next
time. Acknowledging the pain of another person validates his or her emotions—whether you
or something else caused
The Problem: We’ve been
conditioned to apologize when we’ve made a mistake. That’s a great thing to do, however, when teaching
how to apologize we tell kids to say “I’m sorry” and that’s a very hard thing to do!
“I'm sorry" sort of indicate that you think
you are an inferior example of a person, that you should be pitied or looked down upon. It feels like
groveling. Think about the words in a literal sense:
“I” as in You in first
person, your character.
“Am” as in the way You are
right now. It means you are, at this moment, whatever the next word describes.
“Sorry” as in sad, pathetic,
poor, unhappy, low, wrong.
Notice that the phrase
“I’m sorry” describes the condition of the speaker at the moment he or she is speaking.
Okay, sure we can try
telling our kids to be more descriptive, something like, “I’m sorry that I hit you.” But still, if
taken in a literal sense, a kid is saying that she is a sorry individual, right now, because she hit you.
It’s no wonder “I’m
sorry that I…” is quickly followed by a very defensive “but.” “I’m sorry I hit you
The feelings caused by
saying “I’m sorry” encourage justification. It’s trying to find a really good reason to shift the
blame so that the speaker doesn’t look/feel quite so pathetic. We all know what happens
next: finger pointing, name calling, resentment, etc. Nobody wins in the long
The 4 Step Apology Process
The apology process is a way to apologize without
making the negative self-statement “I’m sorry.”
Step 1: Acknowledgement
“I acknowledge that I
was wrong when I hit you.”
This is a factual
statement about what you did. It will defuse emotions on both sides: You
won’t feel the need to defend and they will find it harder to stay mad.
Step 2: Apology
“I apologize for hurting
It’s a positive
statement that validates the other person’s pain.
Step 3: Amends
“What can I do to
It’s a proactive way
to demonstrate your willingness to reduce their pain.
Step 4: Affirm
“Our friendship is
important to me and I want to do everything I can to make sure we stay good friends.”
It’s a way to tie the
whole thing together in the context of relationships rather than fault.
The 4 Step Apology
Process is about owning your behavior not
about being forgiven. Remember, you can’t control the other person.
Respect – By accepting responsibility for your own actions, you respect
yourself. By acknowledging the other person without strings, you respect the other
Learning – To learn from a mistake requires acknowledging having made one in the
first place. If you defend or justify you’re not learning from the mistake, in fact you’ll be
finding reasons for repeating. Yikes!
Dignity – You separate an action you’ve mistakenly made from your character as an
Bonding -- You demonstrate your empathy for the other person’s
feelings: their pain and their need for amends.
Empowerment -- It takes 15 positive statements to outweigh each negative
statement. The words you choose can either bolster confidence or undermine your belief in
yourself. Pay attention to what you say to yourself, intentionally or
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Related Tip of the Week: Integrity,